Wednesday, April 1, 2015

An Author's Guide to Memberships - How to Sell Books Online

Writers: Get Your Books Selling Online Better - Build a Membership

An Author's Guide to Memberships - How to earn extra income from a captive and willing audience...

I've long said (over and over) that the key to any author earning real income came from
  • writing well and prolifically
  • having multiple books for sale on all possible distributors
  • building a list by getting your audience to give you their emails.
After I got an independent income from my book sales, I started looking up how to really leverage book income - and found that those writers having the greatest  success were actually taking it a step further - they were getting people to sign up for a membership.

Why "Join A Group" Earns You More Book Income

  1. Your audience will give you honest feedback about your writing and what they want in your next book.
  2. Your audience will buy your next book and give it the reviews it needs for Amazon.
  3. Your audience will also pay you for the opportunity to do so.
It all started with getting some celebrity to forward a slease-ball's current "opportunity" which was "only" going to cost me three payments of $795 each. (Which told me why that "celebrity" was offering it. Figure about 50% commission on each sale...)

Outside of the over-hyped videos, where the guy is obviously on an over-caffeinated over-excited state (designed to get you excited, too) I got his overpriced .99 Amazon ebook to see what he was talking about.

And, not so funny enough, he didn't tell you anything you couldn't find out through downloading some free PLR or visiting AWeber for its tutorials.

How to de-hype a pitch

I thought I'd covered this somewhere else, but it's pretty simple:
  • Copy all the text to a plain-text editor to remove formatting.
  • Remove all "real life" examples and any personal story the author tells about how he used this stuff to "get rich".
  • Search and Replace any claim of earnings with "[insert amount here]" (This guy kept saying "million-dollar" this and that.)
  • Search and Replace with a blank line any recurring boiler-plate paragraph to get you to "sign up now!"
  • Search and Replace any special terminology with the generic one.
  • Search and Replace all trademark names with "[insert hype-name here]".
  • Once you've cleaned it up, then copy/paste this into a word processor and restore the headings.
Now you can read what they are actually saying without having your intelligence insulted.

What I learned from this spammy hype-merchant.

Essentially, what he was saying was:
  1. Follow your bliss, just make sure it is monetizable, ie. there is some competitive products in that niche which are selling.
  2. Create an ebook with an autoresponder series (like an ecourse) which people will exchange their email address for.
  3. Start mailing these people daily with affiliate offers, interspersed with interesting, or personal emails.
  4. When they sign up, make sure you give them upsells and downsells to make sure you get the most money possible out of that interaction.
Then, of course, he wants you to pay for his $2400 course, which is where he will also offer you several additional products - so you can bet your credit card will feel the pinch.

What he was missing (and how this applies to self-publishing indie authors)

Your income is pegged to the real value you offer.

Why buy from him when all he was offering was just common knowledge? All he was selling was an overpriced course which was guaranteed to try and sell you other stuff while it supposedly taught you what you could have already learned online.

As I said above, I've looked several of these "get rich" guys up and with the actually successful ones, there is a single recurring system which makes people regular income, as well as incredibly rich (in rare instances)...

Building your own mailing list and enrolling them in your membership.

It's simpler than you think. I've just spent the last few days going through that guy's stuff and everything I could find on memberships (that I'd already downloaded to various harddrives.)

Here's the summary of steps to take: 

The Real Bottom Line

  1. Have a passion that's able to be monetized.
  2. Narrow down to a profitable niche.
  3. Offer digital/information products to train people in that niche.
  4. Get their emails.
  5. Get them into a free membership.
  6. Give them plenty of content and add to this regularly.
  7. Convert them to a paid membership.
  8. Replace all attrition
  9. Make them affiliate-evangelists
  10. Continue expanding your content and offering it to your members.
Of course, that's easy for non-fiction authors. Fiction authors have plenty of content laying around from character studies, cutting-room floor excerpts (stuff that didn't make it into the final version), images and sketches you used to create the scenes, diagrams of plots and details to each character's involvement, etc. etc.

The great part about this is that they now start paying you to help you write your next book. Because you involve them in that project.

When the book is nearly ready, a select few can help you edit it by giving their views on it. You then tweak it to their liking. Meanwhile, they are crowdfunding your writing.

The book goes into pre-release, and as many as possible get a discount coupon (iTunes has these, as well as giveaway coupons). The Amazon version goes on sale for a couple of weeks at .99 and then goes up after all your list has their copy and have left reviews for you.

You also sell the book on your own site and pocket something like 95% of the cost (after whatever payment processor takes their slice.) Of course, you can sell your own version with extras that Amazon won't let you upload.

But note that point #9 above.

Any good membership has a built-in affiliate function. So if they are raving fans, they can actually put their affiliate link into the emails and blog-posts they write - and so make a nice little sum for pushing your books.

Then you can do nice things like wrap up all the earlier versions into a bundle (or several) and offer these at a discount, and also pay affiliate commissions on all your paying audience sells for you.

The trick to memberships and still being able to write your books

Having someone else keep the backend running, so your time isn't tied up being customer support or dealing with plug-in's and scripts that don't work. (Believe me - I've been kicked off two ISP's for conflicting plugin's which tied up their servers - and I hated Wordpress for a long time, until I figured out that paying for hosting was the solution.)

You can actually host a membership with nothing more than a free Blogger blog and a PayPal account. But it's a real pain.

And many people run a membership with something as simple as an autoresponder account and something like Ganxy to sell products from their blog.

But you can't expand it easily, have to manually cancel accounts, and approve all refunds yourself.

Meanwhile, you aren't writing books - so the more people you have on your membership, the more you're likely to peg your own income against some glass ceiling. 

And your life is not going to be more pleasant, but less so.

After you have a few thousand people in your membership, you are going to replace your day job --with another job. You aren't increasing the amount of time you can spend writing - because your membership is eating every spare minute just on maintenance.

So the trick is to get a hosted membership. Then they take care of the backend - for a monthly fee.

Affiliate link alert

Here's what you need to get going:
  • An autoreponder: I recommend AWeber.
  • A hosted membership: The current affordable best is Rainmaker.
  • Your own inspiration, plus some sweat equity going through their start-up manuals.

Yes, both of those links have trial offers - and are fair about what they are offering, not hype-artists. 

The question is: 
How long do you want to wait before your books start really selling online?
- or - 
How long do you want to keep that day job with the questionable retirement you're facing? (And meanwhile only writing in your nights and weekends, burning up any spare time your job doesn't take with mandatory overtime...)

- - - -

Join me in having personal financial freedom from just your book income (firing my last boss was probably the most satisfying event of my life.)

Your choice.

PS. Have I done this? No. But it's what I'm researching right now. And I've always included you in my research results, haven't I?

If you see an opt-in above on the right, then I've started this up. Otherwise, I'm still studying the whole process. Yes, I'll keep you updated - just subscribe above to get it in your inbox.

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